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If You Can’t Sell, You Can’t Succeed

Ken Keis, Ph.D., is a leading global authority on behavioral (personality) assessment strategies and an expert in leadership, purpose, and wellness. He is the President and CEO of Consulting Resource Group International, Inc. (CRG) which has served thousands of organizations worldwide.

Executive Contributor Dr. Ken Keis

Selling: to transfer property, services, ideas, or loyalty to another. Mention selling or sales to the majority of individuals, and death seems a more attractive option. The ability to sell—if not the most important skill a person needs to succeed—is certainly in the top three.

Woman in black shirt sitting on chair in front of laptop computer.

Now, before half the readers get defensive, let me explain.

Sales is the activity that breathes life into any economy, business, or venture. Take away sales, and you have nothing. Yet, the fear and loathing around selling result in more personal and business failures than any other single factor.

After one event where I presented, one of the participants wrote me a scathing email about the fact that I promoted (sold) products during the program. She said it was unethical to sell, promote, or market anything at an event.

Wow! Obviously, selling had hit an emotional chord with her. But get this—the program I was conducting was on How to Succeed in Marketing and Selling Yourself and Your Business. Oops! Maybe she thought she was attending another program.

It does not matter what position, role, or level of responsibility you have; you are involved in selling—whether or not you think you are. Every day you are selling, and people are selling to you.

  • The doctor sells you on his/her recommended treatment.

  • You sell yourself in a job interview.

  • You sell your boss when you ask for a promotion or raise.

  • You are selling when you ask someone on a date or to marry you.

  • Your kids are always selling you on the latest, greatest toy.

  • The politician sells you their platform to get your vote.

  • Your significant other sells to you when he or she wants to go on holiday.

And on it goes.

Whether you like it or not, life is all about selling.


In reality, the word "sales" can be replaced with the word "influence". When Brendon Bouchard did his research for his Habits book on one of the top six habits of high performers, one of the six was the ability to "Influence".

And he’s right. There’s no replacement or alternative to the skill of selling (influencing), unless, of course, it’s not important to you to achieve your goals, dreams, or aspirations.

There’s simply not enough space in this short blog to impart sales skills training. I will, however, outline where you need to start.

First, if you have an aversion to sales, selling, influencing, and the sales professionals, you need to find a way to liberate that belief system.

Unfortunately, many individuals associate “sales” with some sleazy, high-pressure salesman they have encountered. After my own successful sales career and as a sales trainer to the auto industry for over a decade, I understand that some sales professions have poor reputations.

Regrettably, some sales trainers still teach 101 ways to close the sale and how to deal with objections. They are way out of touch with what sales is really all about! They are repeating crusty, outdated junk from the 20th century.

Please don’t buy into that mindset. Today’s sales professionals are a whole new breed. Our research shows that the top sales reps are excellent listeners—not smooth talkers.

Selling does not determine your character, values, or ethics. It is simply a skill set blended with confidence and emotions. It is critical to understand that as you go forward. Sales skills and the character and ethics of the individual who deploys them are two separate entities.

True sales success is always about building a relationship between or among parties where the interaction results in mutual benefits.

If, by chance, you are one of the many who loathe everything about selling, your journey will include overcoming that negative mindset. Until you upgrade your attitude, your success as an individual will be limited. If you are an entrepreneur, that state of mind will be disastrous for you!

As a past Number One Sales Performer and Sales Trainer we are excited to mention an amazing resource our eCourse, Why Don’t You Sell The Way That I Buy?™, which comes with the online assessment the Sales Style Indicator and an 80-page workbook.


In the end, the skill of selling is critical to your success. Don’t let anyone say it isn’t—especially you!


Action steps


If you can’t sell (Influence others), you can’t succeed

  1. You must acknowledge the fact that selling is one of the most important skills you can acquire and deploy to be successful in any and all parts of your life.

  2. What is your attitude toward sales, sales promotion, and sales professionals?

  3. Do you love selling? If not, why not? Document all your concerns in writing.

  4. What negative issues (if any) do you need to overcome to make sales a priority and acceptable to you?

  5. Forget what others think or say about sales. If they have a negative opinion about sales, they probably are not successful, especially in business.

  6. Avoid any sales training or advice that suggests you must be dishonest to succeed. The art of selling does not mean selling your soul and conducting yourself in an unethical manner. In fact, it is just the opposite.

  7. To be successful in any sales endeavor, you must love what you do and be passionate about what you are promoting.

  8. To build your sales skills and confidence and/or your sales team, consider our eCourse, Why Don’t You Sell The Way That I Buy?™ At minimum, complete the Sales Style Indicator to understand your selling style. 

  9. To grow, link yourself with successful individuals who have high selling skills and who share your values and ethics.

  10. Make a commitment to enhance and improve your selling/influencing skills, no matter your current level of skill or responsibility.

  11. In addition, to our online course we are available to support you and your organization in the sales, sales management or processes, virtually or in-person as a trainer, coach, mentor or consultant. Please reach out with your questions and we can proceed from there.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Dr. Ken Keis, Expert Leadership

Ken Keis, Ph.D., is a leading global authority on behavioral (personality) assessment strategies and an expert in leadership, purpose, and wellness. He is the President and CEO of Consulting Resource Group International, Inc. (CRG) which has served thousands of organizations worldwide. With over 4 million words of content authored, including 4 books and a dozen assessments, Dr. Keis is also a respected author, speaker, coach, mentor and media guest His latest books include: Why Aren't You More Like Me?, Deliberate Leadership, and The Quest For Purpose. An engaging public speaker, Dr. Keis has conducted over 3,000 presentations and 10,000 hours of coaching and consulting.



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